Thursday, July 31, 2008

Boob Tube

Right now, had things gone differently, I'd be drinking in a pub with my lovely Muslim ladyfriend and Gay Paul and, perchance, a host of others. But I'd been blown out this morning when LMLF announced that she'd forgotten something vital she had to do tonight and, well, that was pretty much that.

Truth be told, I don't really mind. The fact is that due to thinking I'd be out tonight, I'd not cycled to work today, which meant I got the tube to work. It's terribly exciting getting public transport on delayed trains with a vast swathe of humanity when I normally sweat cobs pedalling myself towards town and spending my day with nought but other men once I get there. The tube, you see, is full of women, and that's really, really, really good.

I know - not out of prior knowledge but from a well-honed sense of male intuition - that all men love the summer, because they know that women bloom at this time of year, appearing out of a winter's hibernation with their breasts and their long silky legs and their generic loveliness wrapped up in a tight white blouse and little skirt. A tube train mid-Jan seems like a harsh unforgiving place; one attractive woman will stand out a mile as there seems so few of them. But it's a different story in the summer. It's as if all women have decided to become gorgeous and roam the streets and catch the tube and frankly, it makes me cry a bit.

Now, I have long maintained that regular users of the London Underground will never see the same person twice. That said, I'm not a morning person and I don't actually have a schedule to synchronise with anyone else. But in the main, the large gathering of miserable bastards on platforms that I shuffle past on those tube days seem as different and as new as if I was in Sweden for the first time again.

Apart from this one girl.

There's a lady who I've spotted from time to time as she always sits in the last carriage of the second train I get. We get the same carriage as we alight at the same stop and it's this rear carriage that's nearest the exit. My heart leapt a little when I spotted her this morning - for the first time in ages - and tried as surreptitiously as I could to remain interested in Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down when I was instead looking for an excuse to look at her. I did this by looking up to scour the tube map, then casually, just-so-happens, turning to check her out on the way back to my book. She's lovely; a sensual little pixie and very slightly orange, which is a bit tragic but not orange enough to dissuade me. She's got the white blouse and black skirt thing going on, sculpted, firm curves, and a face like a terrier - I mean that as a compliment. I grew up in a house full of lots of small dogs and every so often I'd get the urge to grab one of the cute little buggers and hug the fucking life out of it. (As if you didn't need reminding, it's exactly this kind of thinking that explains why I don't get laid.) To put that more politely, she's got a cute face, the kind of face I want to squeeze the cheeks of and smother in playful kisses until I remember that she's not a dog and I want to lock her delicate pink lips with mine and ideally sleep with the rest of her. (And get to know her on a deeper level, blah blah blah.)

So anyway, I was in Boots a few weeks ago. I think I was buying contact lens solution or staring at condoms and wondering just what kind of person buys them, when I spotted tubelady in there. I wasn't sure it was her at first, so I kinda craned my neck until she spotted me. I couldn't be sure exactly, but she seemed momentarily flustered. Then she flicked her hair and looked back at me. I think there was a smile.

Now I'm not Mr Body Language, but that was a Good Thing, wasn't it?

Needless to say, I paid for whatever skin disease cream I was buying and didn't approach her on the way out of the store. To be perfectly honest, I was scared. I felt myself tense. I knew this was a beautiful moment and if I dared act on it and approached a complete stranger with the magic words, 'Hey, don't I get the tube with you??' followed by, 'Erm...', ultimately I'd walk away wishing I could have back the hair and smile fluster moment and left it at that.
So I hedged my bets and legged it before I opened my mouth.

Ever since, whenever I've I put myself on the morning tube instead of biking in, I get a little bit excited. Except I hadn't seen her since.

Until this morning.

Tubelady got on at non-specific London station and I studied her for clues. Would she spot me? Where would she stand? Why are these situations so numbingly painful? She seemed engrossed in texting someone on her mobile phone though, someone probably male and more appropriately dark-haired and meatheaded. I gave her as many brief looks as I could muster until she spotted me, whereupon she stared back then looked away, although in truth, it could've been me that looked away. I can't remember. In those rare two or three occasions where women have stared back in earnest, that's when I really panic; after all, that's a whole new level. What the fuck do you do then? Staring casually, I can do, and not for so long that it becomes creepy. Checking someone out is all about moderation, IMHO. Striking up a conversation in public with a complete stranger, though? Who the fuck do you think I am? Jack Nicholson?

I once tried cracking a smile at a lady who'd been staring at me, but it came out all wrong. I grimaced like a baby with trapped wind and I wasn't looked at again after that. Better to remain intense and broody I reckon, and ultimately scare them a little. Sorry, but that is all I can offer. I can't do the smile thing. It doesn't feel right.

I'm just grateful I don't make a habit of getting the tube every day. While it remains a novelty, all I'll ever notice are the carriages of beautiful women, or Indian lads reading the sports pages, or middle-aged Polish women with bags full of crap, and then back to the gorgeous women.

If I did make a habit of it, then I'll start to realise that it doesn't matter how many beautiful women I'm surrounded by, or if I'm directly facing Tubelady in an empty carriage. It won't take long for me to realise the tragedy I'm in; of not being able to say or do anything.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sweden

Ah, Sweden, with its 21 sensible counties, letter A's with circles above them, and a King who looks exactly like the British actor Jim Broadbent.

I returned from Stockholm last night having attended my 59th wedding this year, my mate Rob having married his Swedish missus Karin. It was a beautiful wedding, my first religious one of recent times and my first non-Jewish one, held in a medieval church in Torsång.

We had spent the majority of the trip in neighbouring Falun (population: 50,000, a disconcerting amount of Fifties Buicks and Cadillacs, and two mass-murderers). Despite being roughly level with Anchorage in Alaska, more northerly than Moscow and on par with the Shetland Islands off the Scottish coast, it was fucking boiling, what with us being there during a rare Scandinavian heatwave.

The Swedish countryside reminded me of that corner of North America where the Amish live (who admittedly are Swiss); very flat and green, with big red barns and lots of trees. That's the best I can do, I'm afraid. So I'll also add lakes, lots and lots of lakes, and very polite people who all speak English. In fact, I'll quantify that. I had a 100% success rate in every Swede I spoke to; not a single one of them couldn't understand me, and we're talking restaurant staff, cabbies, the kids in McDonalds (I'd like to apologise in advance for going there), the girl who worked in a petrol station, random members of the public who spoke to me in Swedish only for me to say "Sorry?" whereupon they switched languages effortlessly, and the wedding guests who all spoke English as if Swedish was a private language they only spoke when we weren't around.
Which I guess it kinda is.

Once again I was left with that appalling sense of low self-esteem you get from realising you're monolingual when everyone else isn't. I only managed to learn 'Tack' (Thank you), and 'Fan', which defies definition; somewhere between 'Shit' and 'Dammit'.

We arrived in Falun on Thursday following a 2.5 hour train journey (I still don't know what Stockholm looks like, barring Arlanda airport - which is as London as Stanstead) and first encountered painful Swedish prices. Admittedly we were on a train, but three beers cost me £13.50/ 27.00 Dollars (US & Canadian)/ and 501 billion Zimbabwe dollars (and increasing - sad but true). My travelling companions and I made it to our hotel where another couple had arrived, and we all headed off for a bite to eat. It was there that I made some observations;
Sweden is no more blonde than anywhere else.
People who didn't quite look East Anglian/ Anglo Saxon seemed quite Nordic instead. Obviously.
They like tattoos.
Women still won't sleep with me.

The sky was still refreshingly blue as the clock nudged towards 11pm so we headed to the lake where Ali, the best man, phoned us repeatedly as he sat with Rob's side of the family. It was dark by the time we arrived, which meant the sky had gone navy and there seemed to be a perpetual sunset just over the horizon. This was about midnight. When we returned from the late night cafe an hour or two and a remortgage your house couple of beers later, the sun was beginning to rise, and from a point only slightly more easterly than where it had set. East and west were narrowing.

More people turned up on Friday - the day before the wedding - and the hotel was beginning to fill with northern English folk who sounded like Rob. I'd spotted a gym at this point and ran in to wail on my pecs and go for a swim. Regrettably, I'd only spent 5 minutes on a treadmill when I headed out for some reception area water and got spotted by Karin, the bride. It was regrettable because I smelt like a tramp in midsummer and was sweating profusely. I hugged her anyway which seemed to repel her, and said hello to her cute friend who then disappeared into the lifts - she was a guest in the hotel too and I was left with the impression that she may be single.

This was looking good. My ladyfriend Sabina was to be my wing woman that weekend, as I'd read in Wednesday's Londonlite about ladies you can hire for the princely sum of £38 p/hour to accompany sad, pathetic men (i.e. me) around bars so you don't look like all women hate you. They then approach women on your behalf and do the adult equivalent of "My mate fancies you" - except you've paid for them to be your mate.

At last, someone was fighting my corner.

After a swim and a sauna, I had to fight through a sea of people in reception I knew, or half knew, or had been on Rob's stag with and couldn't really talk to because I had just come out of a sauna and looked like I was sweating out my internal organs.

We went into town and bought booze. The Swedish can't buy anything higher than 3.5% alcohol in shops and supermarkets, and the good stuff was only available in state off-licences that close early so we'd gone there and bought enough for a small rave; Falcon beer, raspberry sambuca, red wine, and some local Swedish whiskey that only I seemed to like. We downed as much as we could like teenagers, and headed out to eat and pay about £5 for beer that is actually smaller than a pint.

I was in trouble by the time we were sat chainsmoking in an outdoor restaurant as I had lost all sense of caring and was throwing money at the bar as if I was John Paul Getty III. Sabina and I traversed the area to scope for women but we just looked obvious. I ran ahead like a panting dog while Sabina caught up and pointed directly into women's faces yelling "What about her?" which, trust me, doesn't work.

I was grateful to return to my room at the end of the evening. I managed to get up for breakfast (a selection of cheeses and as much non-kosher meat as I could fit on my plate) and was clearly still hammered. I then decided to go to bed til the afternoon.

I woke up at 2pm and got ready. I began sweating liberally in my beige suit, not helped by the fact that it fitted me like a pair of lycra cycling shorts on Jack Black, and got on a coach to the Church. I was in a Catch 22. I wanted to take my jacket off because it was so hot, but I couldn't because my shirt looked like I'd been swimming in it. So we sat in the church in a Scandinavian country that doesn't do air conditioning. Rob and Karin turned up together and walked down the aisle. I took a picture (Rob had obscured Karin completely and he was barely visible anyway). They approached the vicar who conducted the ceremony in two languages while I tried to avoid eye contact with Jesus who was nailed up on a nearby wall. Technically that was my fault.

Rob and Karin were married in minutes and they walked out of the church as Man and Wife. (I took another picture, this time of Rob's back.) Once outside, we boarded a boat which took us an hour up Lake Runn, along a stunning stretch of water bordered on all sides by lush Swedish countryside. I ruined a tranquil journey by chatting to Welsh Nick and mentioning the Holocaust, and although I wasn't able to have a chat with the beautiful bride at any point, I did manage to get her attention so I could hand her my empty beer bottle for her to put on a nearby table.

The reception was fantastic, although the English contingent seemed keen for more beer more frequently, and I chatted to Robban, and Petra with amazing blue eyes, and her boyfriend Johann - or Joaquim; I couldn't get the pronunciation right. I told him he looks like Adam Sandler which didn't go down particularly well, although he turned out to be charming. The menu contained little biographies of all the guests and Rob had written that I keep this blog. The others then asked for details and I panicked slightly, as it's full of every embarrassing thing I've ever done, the drugs I've taken, and the women I've repelled. They asked for a sample story and all I could think of was the time I went to New York and masturbated on a couch. I think I felt honour bound to say something, but I probably should've chosen something else.

Things got worse. I walked over to chat to the cute blonde friend of Karin's I'd met the day before. I couldn't quite think of anything to say and, for some unknown reason, decided to tell her that we'd soon be wearing our ties on our heads like Rambo, something I've never even done as it's idiotic but had decided to anyway. I began loosening my tie and wrenching it upwards when Sabina, my supposed wing woman, screamed out 'Fweng, NOO!.' I wasn't even drunk. I complained bitterly that I wasn't doing anything wrong and continued to pull my tie up to my head while Sabina continued yelling. It was only later that I realised I'd turned into a concussed Basil Fawlty about to do a Hitler impression in front of the Germans.

Unsurprisingly, the blonde walked off. All I had to do was put in a bit more work, not wear my tie on my head, and maybe something would happen. It did, about ten minutes later. Rob walked past and said 'Matt's in with the blonde.'

Matt is a friend of the groom, also single, also keen to pull, and blessed with the ability to not want to put a tie on his head. Matt clung to her like glue for the rest of the evening, and when I tried throwing some shapes on the dance floor and edging slowly in her direction, I realised I was too sweaty to try anything so I walked out into the cool night air to get bitten by mosquitoes instead.

My wing woman yelled at me later, real vitriolic abuse that I'm a complete twat, which compelled me to remind her that I probably don't need to hear that and besides, I know.

Matt and the blonde disappeared and that was that. By the time we got back to our hotel, I realised I'd lost my camera again. This would be the replacement camera I bought three weeks ago after I'd lost my first (brand new) one at Luke and Sabina's wedding. Words cannot possibly convey how utterly useless and pathetic I felt.

(I did get the camera back after calling the cab company - the driver returned to hand it back because the Swedish are ruthlessly decent and honest people. Getting it back does ruin the tragedy of this post somewhat, but it doesn't detract from the fact that for an hour after I realised I no longer had my camera, I wanted to stick my head into an oven.)

Nick and I were the last to go to bed. We locked ourselves in my room and chainsmoked, drinking all the booze we had remaining from the off-licence. In a matter of hours, I'd be on a train going back to the airport.

Sweden
Cons: I can't get laid there. (See also: every other country on earth.) Beer and food is extortionate. Seems very quiet and uncrowded.
Pros: What seems, to me, like a really hot country. Thoroughly decent, friendly people. Rob married Karin there. No litter. Cats will miaow for you in English if you can't understand them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nothing To Report

Really. Nothing has happened. I am still returning home after work to squeeze out a shit book from my empty brain, utterly destroying my sex life in the process. Granted, I didn't have one to start off with, but I'm barely socialising with anyone now.

I am still cycling to work, which is having an unusual effect. In the old days, my metabolism would kick in and I'd lose weight. Now I'm losing nothing and I'm finding myself turning into a tank instead. My frame is still huge, my girth (sadly not of the penile variety), has got larger. I'm getting muscular, but it's just making me look like a club bouncer who's lost his bomber jacket.

So that's nice.

I am being self-destructive too. Not only am I chainsmoking for Britain, but at the weekend, I wrote precisely zero words. this was despite having two full days of potential writing time that I wasted in front of the computer looking at well-faked poltergeist hauntings (after, that is, I'd watched Poltergeist for no reason). I ate crap. I played Spider Solitaire. I went to bed. Then I returned from a day's work last night and wrote til 2am.

And that's all I have to offer. Sorry.

But in lighter news, my mate Phil has proposed to his missus, which also means my seventh wedding in ten months. Regrettably, I won't be there as they've opted for a day in September when I'll be in Eastern Europe trying to have sex. Perhaps that was the point.

Oh, and tomorrow, I'm off to Sweden for my fifth wedding. To say I'm looking forward to it would be an understatement. I've always wanted to go to Scandinavia, it will be full of blondes (allegedly), and I'll have a hotel bedroom all to myself.

The chances of me having sex have increased massively. However, so has my waistline, as I still can't fit into my One Beige Suit™ when I tried it on yesterday.

I may take condoms with me as an ironic gesture. It can't hurt. They'll be out of date in a week anyway.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Concerted Effort

A fortnight since my last post. Surely an apathy record.

The main reason that I haven't blogged, as if any of this actually matters, is that I'm still trying to churn out the dross that is the 2nd draft of the Worst Book of All Time.

The last 12 days have continued in the same vein. I'm still cycling although I didn't this morning - Going to sleep at 3am last night and waking up four hours later befuddled me to the point that weaving in and out of angry commuter traffic didn't appeal.

Consequently, I got to see an awful lot of Cute Women in Slips™ on the tube today, which was tremendously good fun. Working as I do in a 100% male environment makes this rather vital to my sanity. In the current climate of cycling to work, cycling home, locking my door, and writing, I am becoming MORE FUCKING DESPERATE THAN EVER BEFORE, the likes of which even I'm surprised by. It is no secret that I haven't had sex since 2006 - and in five months, it'll be 2009, so that's lots of fun.

I nixed my money-saving hermit-copying lifestyle by going out on Friday night with some old Uni mates. I woke up on Saturday largely unable to function, but also very aware that if I didn't go out again, I was destined to a life of celibacy. When Martin suggested we dress up, hit the town, and make a concerted effort to pull, I took it.

We met in Notting Hill. In the first pub, a bunch of absolutely shit-faced middle aged Kiwis announced that I look like Boris Becker, which I hadn't heard for a while and strangely cheered me up. After all, I've been hearing that for a good 16 years. Mind you, Boris is ageing along with me, so I guess it's not all that flattering. In the second bar, we stared at women and discussed the glut of fake elephantine cocks in pornography (quietly). The third pub seemed more promising. The table behind us was full of cute young European women who we'd flit past in the hope that a conversation would ensue. Of course, I now know that WE SHOULD'VE JUST STARTED TALKING TO THEM, but that would've been too obvious and ultimately too humiliating.

So instead we stuck around enjoying the view until the inevitable happened; a trio of tall, bland, dark-haired Italian fuckmunchers gormlessly dragged their elongated corpses to the bar and - mere seconds after walking in - got their arses squeezed by the girls.

Cue Martin and me bitching about the tragic way this country is headed where men's arses like ours aren't bothered by the cheeky grope of a drunk bird's mitts, all while those three Italians took advantage of their being goosed by sitting with the goosers and dribbling down their cleavages.

If I did that to a woman, I'd be banged up.

We headed off to a club I'd heard about on Notting Hill Road which turned out to be a tiny fucking room up lethally steep stairs crammed with 100 desperate pissheads. There was a hen party in there, to which I asked a member if she was part of it.
'Yeah,' she yelled before trotting off.

That was the sum total of my concerted effort to pull.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Guilt-Laden Non-Post

Not a whole lot has happened over the last week. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to post.

In the previous 190 hours, I have cycled to work every day, swam at least once a week (slightly poor), and have yet to visit the gym because I am spending my evenings writing - after, that is, I've snapped myself from the sweet caress of Spider fucking Solitaire.

In other woefully uneventful news...

a) I have re-bought my camera seeing as my last one got nicked.
b) I am eating a lot of vegetables and fruit, and I miss crisps and chocolate and other shit.
c) I am still smoking. I'm with Z and Clarissa. I can't be expecting to right all my wrongs in one sitting.
d) I am off to Sweden in 3 weeks for yet another wedding. I have never been to Scandinavia before, and I am looking forward to having lots of sex with blondes getting sneered at by lots of blondes.
e) The Grand Tour - my late summer holiday - is 50% there ~ We now have a flight to Warsaw booked, home of my ancestors, the Ebolavitches. I have yet to book a return from somewhere Hungarian, and quite frankly, I'd rather not bother.
f) Oh, and yesterday, I had sex.










Ok, I didn't.